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By Belinda

Yesterday...I shared the embarking upon of an adventure and it appears that I have a small band of friends on the journey. The journey?
Giving up:
* Self effort and "law keeping"
* Action independent of God, and
* "Religion" as a form or mindset
Taking up:
* Obedience to the still small voice of God
* True relationship with God, and
* The demise of my old self "by faith"

The fact that some friends heard in the words written here, a call that resonated with them, is exciting and sobering all at once. It is exciting because any journey is better with friends. It is sobering because I think of something Oswald Chambers said:

If I allow any private deflection from God in my life, everyone about me suffers. When once you allow physical selfishness, mental slovenliness, moral obtuseness, spiritual density, everyone belonging to your crowd will suffer.

The wonderful thing though, is that where once this would have lain on my shoulders as a doom filled weight of responsibility; "my" responsibility; "doom filled" because it is a standard I can't live up to; the very journey I am on is to get as far away from that kind of thinking as possible. Instead my responsibility is to  keep making small choices daily, to surrender my will and exchange the pale imitation of life in Christ, for the  vibrant explosion of his life in mine.

My friend Dave wrote in yesterday's comment section:

Belinda, we've really got to have a long chat with the 'die to self' concept. I'm not sure I get it. I get being true to self and being authentic and giving life to 'me-ness' in God. I just don't get death of self - so can you help me with this?

 I thought that I should try to answer that here, because it is so important. Dying to self doesn't mean losing my identity or "self," but becoming the newly created-in-Christ self. It is all that you said, Dave, but so much more.I can't get there by trying harder but I can get there by believing that I did die "in him." I've embedded a couple of passages from The Message paraphrase of the Bible that speak to this but really, when you start seeing this it is everywhere you read in the epistles. In this passage from Galatians, Paul speaks about the gravitational pull back to "the law" and being circumcised.

 11-13Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ's suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don't keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible!
 14-16For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can't you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them! (Galatians 6:11-16, The Message)

I've been reading Romans, where it is so clear. Here is a section paraphrased in The Message. Here it is--the two great gifts in Christ. As Watchman Nee puts it, Christ frees us from both "sin" and "sins."

 6-11Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin's every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ's sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to javascript:void(0)you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That's what Jesus did. (Romans 6:6-11, The Message)


Marilyn said…
Am enjoying your continuing thoughts on this new/renewed initiative. Today the Oswald Chambers' quote resonated with me, the reminder about how my choices affect the community. That is a beautiful thought when seen from the other side, that the small obediences, the invisible things, will bless the larger group. No need for fanfare or parades over small obedient actions. God is faithful to see the blessing ripple out.
Belinda, thank you for this. I think perhaps it's a matter of language. Everything I read hear does not speak to 'death of self' ... being dead to sin and sinfullness is not really the same thing. I have always found the 'death of self' talk disturbing and frightening and I wonder if others, outside of the evangelical movement do too. What I read here in this post from the scriptures is about the journey towards selfhood. We all know what it is to 'dress up' ourselves when we go to work or to meet someone important. We all know what it is to be one person with a spouse, another with parents and even another with friends. We all know what it is to lose self through the expectations of others or in situations. I find that I can experience a horrible kind of death of self when, with all the pretending, I loose who I am. I loose the sense of who I was created to be. I find that faith gives me the courage to live fully as the Dave God loves, the guy that was created, the guy who I'm afraid to be much of the time. I don't think we're far off from each other, the sins of pride and of lust and avarice can be such huge distractions and offer such tempting delights. To be dead to the need for praise other than praise for the God you worship is a goal I strive for. 'death of self' 'birth of authenticity' however its said, what matters is the striving.
Susan said…
I am sitting this morning in a place where I can see the effects of my "slippage" having rippled out and affected someone very dear to me. Some of the consequences of my "spiritual density" became very clear in the last few days. It's a very painful and regretful place to be, because it's not me that's hurt so much, but someone i love. Your quote from OC this morning gives pause for sober reflection, but there's hope here too. Lots.

So grateful that none of us are alone on the journey (esp me!)...
Belinda said…
Holding hands tightly with my friends...and Jesus my big brother...Belinda

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